NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Cato Study: Housing And Urban Development (HUD) Should Go

December 22, 1997

The major premises underlying the Department of Housing and Urban Development are faulty and the federal agency should be shut down, says Harvard University scholar Howard Husock. He says the agency's expensive and counterproductive programs don't justify its continuing cabinet-level status.

Husock's criticisms appear in a recent Cato Institute report, "The Inherent Flaws of HUD."

Here are some of the issues he raises:

  • Although HUD was created on the premise that U.S. cities are in a state of crisis and decline, cities as a whole are actually in healthy shape.
  • Federal efforts to "revitalize" urban areas through public investment and social services prevents the infusion of real capital investment that would lead to real, sustainable growth.
  • While HUD employs regional land-use planning, the American public has made clear its distaste for central planning at the federal and metropolitan levels.
  • Rent subsidies and vouchers reward need, rather than achievement -- sending the wrong message to those who are subsidized and breeding resentment among those who have worked to achieve a better level of housing.

Instead of an attempt to reduce fraud, waste and mismanagement at the agency, Husock says there ought to be a fundamental examination of the very need for federal involvement in housing and urban planning.

Husock, the director of public policy case studies at the Kennedy School of Government, contends HUD was unnecessary to begin with, its purpose is of questionable constitutionality and its goals can be better met through the private housing industry.

Source: Howard Husock, "The Inherent Flaws in HUD," Policy Analysis No. 292, December 22, 1997, Cato Institute, 1000 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001, (202) 842-0200.


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